Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Virgin California?

NOTE: We've moved! Visit us at the California High Speed Rail Blog.

The Times is reporting Richard Branson wants a piece of California HSR:

Virgin Trains, which operates the West Coast Main Line in Britain, is bidding for a slice of President Obama's multibillion-dollar upgrade of the American rail network, The Times has learnt.

Virgin is understood to be the only British company involved in the President's plan to build high-speed rail links between key cities on the East and West coasts of the United States. Virgin has been asked to submit a proposal for developing this infrastructure and has held meetings with the new Administration in Washington.

They may be overstating this case dramatically - Obama doesn't really have a "plan" to build HSR, at least not in any great detail. It would be interesting to know what they mean by "has held meetings with the new Administration" - it could be a basic "get to know you" fact-finding meeting or something more. But our own LA-SF route features in whatever it is Virgin is planning:

Virgin and other high-speed operators, such as SNCF, of France, are expected to work with the US Department of Transportation to develop its rail plans and then bid to operate individual services.

Virgin is keen on the Los Angeles to San Francisco route and also the East Coast line linking Boston, New York, Philadelphia and Washington. There are 30 return airline flights a day between Los Angeles and San Francisco and a high-speed train service could replace many of those, cutting carbon emissions. The journey would take less than three hours and voters in California have already agreed to raise $10 billion to start work on a line that would run from Sacramento, the state capital, to San Francisco, Los Angeles and San Diego.

I've always figured that SNCF and Virgin would be among the companies showing interest in operating our HSR line, so this is an expected development. That being said, I'm not sure that private operators are either necessary or desirable and have expressed my skepticism on this point ever since the first few posts on this blog. Public operators in France and Spain have done a good job running the system, as has Amtrak here in the US, and I'd prefer that any "profits" be given to expansion of the system and not to Richard Branson's wallet.

79 comments:

Go Virgin! said...

Most all rail operations are contracted in California to private operators. Caltrain contracts with Amtrak and Amtrak makes a profit. ACE contracts with Herzog (I think it's still Herzog) and that company makes a profit.

Private operators would most likely pay a fee for slots for their trains to operate on the CHSRA infrastructure. That fee would be the CHSRA's "profit" to pay for expansion. The private operator would make a profit that would be the result of how well they run the service, laid out in the tender that the CHSRA would lay out to get the private operators to bid.

This is probably the purest example of "public participation" in the CHSRA model.

All of Europe will be going to open access in 2010 (or thereabouts). That means, as reported here, that different private groups will bid to operate on parts of the European network. What's different in California?

mike said...

Virgin is keen on the Los Angeles to San Francisco route

Stupid Sir Richard Branson. What does he know about transportation? If only he talked to Martin Engel and the City of Atherton, he'd realize that the SF-LA HSR market has no potential for substantial ridership and this whole thing will be failure.

Anonymous said...

Virgin wants a very juicy piece of California, indeed.

I hope that with this news, some avid HSR enthusiasts begin to grow a concience and see that air travel between SF and LA has very very little to do with the Peninsula, and HSR trains may be a reduction in air emissions, but will be a huge net increase to carbon emissions in the Peninsula - because of the auto traffic that will be drawn directly and deeply into Penisula towns which do not host major airports.

The quality of Peninsula towns, really and truly some of California's most important revenue generators, can not be sacraficed simply to line the pockets of a few. Its not right, and its not in the best interest of California to destroy one of the only real resources that we have - our California.

We have already given up some very significant corridors of land and natural resources across California to interstate (and innerstate) transportation; Hwy 5, Hwy 101, Hwy 99, Hwy 280. We've created the beginnings of a few major statewide transport hubs; SFO, LAX, and perhaps a few others. We've already taken the hit on these corridors in terms of sacrafices to quality of life. High speed rail can in fact repair some of these quality of life issues along these highways (auto traffic) corridors, by reinvigorating growth along those corridors. High Speed Rail should be following these corridors, not creating new gashes deep inside some of our most 'working' neighborhoods and small towns.

PLEASE, PLEASE PLEASE use your power to do what's right here. You will gain the support of MANY Californian's, including myself who want very much to see high speed rail in California, but who simply can not support it (must fight it as vigorously as possible)under the current plan.

From my tailpipe said...

Anon-
The exhaust from cars going to SJC and SFO doesn't blow into your sweet Eden and the jets don't affect anyplace except San Bruno and Millbrae. Do you really believe what you write? If so, I hope you're not entrusted with any responsibilities in life.

nikko pigman said...

@mike -- thanks for your thoughtful input. It will as a good laugh for us all. What does Richard Branson know about transportation? Apparently a lot.

I'm not in disagreeance with privatization however. I don't believe that private operators should run the system initially, but as it gets on its feet (financially) and really gets going, then it might be advisable to allow private companies to bid on providing HSR service. This would however entail that the infrastructure is still maintained by the CAHSR Authority itself and that the service is put under some regulation to guarantee quality and service.

Rafael said...

For my part, I have no problem with private investors buying their own equipment from a pre-qualified shortlist of trainset products and obtaining trackage rights for timetable slots in open auction.

This is the model that Europe is migrating toward: national monopolies on infrastructure combined with competition between operators. Highly unionized monopoly operators have a way of ending up overstaffed and delivering service that is not all that great, actually. Plus, in some countries at least, they go on strike at the drop of a hat.

Competition is a good thing because it raises service quality and ensures reasonable fares - just what you need to boost ridership. And that, at the end of the day, is what will get the phase II spurs plus possibly one out to Las Vegas actually built. Private operators will want a slice of the profits pie, but the infrastructure operator will still end up with more if the pie as a whole grows faster than the size of its slice shrinks.

Private sector operators also take the edge off claims that privately run airlines will be forced to compete against subsidized HSR. I could easily see e.g. Southwest actually getting into the train operations business - or buying blocks of seats on someone else's trains - such that it can use its slots at SFO, LAX and other California airports for long-haul flights to other states.

The key to success will be integrated booking and efficient transfers between trains and planes. With a bit of luck, that will be possible at Palmdale, Ontario and Lindbergh Field, perhaps one day even at Castle Airport.

SJC won't make the cut because the BART extension won't serve the airport terminals before looping back toward a yard where the SJC employee and long-term parking lots are now. The additional distance and construction of a second story would be more expensive, but the value added would also be greater. Proceeds from sales of the Santa Clara yard to developers could help close the funding gap.

SFO's connection to Millbrae is a well-documented CF and likely to stay that way unless ye olde shuttle bus is reinstated or the AirTrain extended to Millbrae.

LAX is even further removed from the nearest HSR station, but there's at least a sliver of a chance that LA Metro will use the Harbor Subdivision Transit Corridor (HSTC) for a fast rail shuttle service.

Of course, direct HSR service out to LAX would be even more stupendous, even if trains have to run at commuter rail speeds south of Redondo Junction. Since the HSTC ROW is narrow, it might be necessary to stack tracks, wit at least one in a trench or elevated.

Stations along the way would feature two island platforms, one above the other. Horizontally, these would be sandwiched in-between the straight express tracks and curved bypass tracks served by Metrolink trains. Underground tail track(s) at LAX would extend out to the beach and possibly curve south toward El Segundo.

Expensive? Yes, but not having to transfer is worth its weight in gold. If the HSR junction at Redondo Junction is done right, the solution would allow the airlines serving LAX to virtually eliminate their short-hop flights within California.

Note that CHSRA is already planning to share track with Metrolink between Fullerton and Anaheim, something that FRA has yet to approve.

yeson1a said...

GET OVER IT!! its a 100foot wide right of way..thats 120 years OLD so dont compare it to a 10 lane freeway. Stop whinning about your lives being ruined as if upgrading that ROW will cause any more damage than all your traffic and smog from your 75K SUVs No parent/martin high speed rail WILL be built and the sky will not fall in on MenloPark/Atherton ect..It really wont be much differnt from today to most people!!

Anonymous said...

Understand or don't understand, that's obviously up to your giant intellect to figure out and come to terms with.

The point is you push traffic that belongs at SFO and SJC into neighborhoods. You ruin 50 miles of neighborhoods. That don't have to be ruined to accomplish your goal. HSR from SF to LA.

If you figure it out, you will enjoy a lot more support than you currently have.

If you don't figure it out you can look forward to enjoying a lot more resistance, roadblocks, lawsuits, time delays, costs, and political fights, all sorts of things that will at worst get the whole thing shut down, at best delay it beyond your wildest dreams.

By the way, will we see you at the planned march to city hall next week, protesting against HSR?

Rafael said...

@ anon @ 4:36pm -

"High Speed Rail should be following these corridors, not creating new gashes deep inside some of our most 'working' neighborhoods and small towns."

New gashes? Please riddle me this: which came first in the peninsula, the railroad or the million-dollar houses? Plus, you're being offered full grade separation, which would make cross road traffic capacity independent of rail traffic growth. That in turn will relieve pressure to widen 101 and I-280 in the future.

Grade separation will also give town planners greater flexibility to address capacity bottlenecks, e.g. at Alma/University/El Camino Real in Palo Alto. If desired, plans could be modified to route traffic around University via Lytton and Hamilton.

Note that this may make sense even if there is no HSR station in Palo Alto. If there is, a (hopefully large) fraction of the extra traffic will be bicycles and buses rather than cars and trucks. Keep in mind that CHSRA has not yet decided to build one at all in the mid-peninsula, let alone to build it in Palo Alto.

Reminder: the next Redwood City HSR scoping meeting is on March 4.

yeson1a said...

Your so freaked out your foaming at the mouth about nothing...Gees
you need to look at railroad and th 45 trains going by everday.its not like you live by a one train a week railroad. NO I wont be their to watch your Drama show ..if have to work!! Now go back to your silly whinner boards

mike said...

Anon - Um, you do realize that CO2 is not a local pollutant, right? It has absolutely zero impact on local human health. Ozone also has no relation to the proximity of the vehicle (because it's formed by a chemical reaction between NOx and VOC, so it drifts well away from the initial source before it forms). Carbon monoxide is a localized pollutant, but technology has improved such that we're easily in attainment there.

Regardless, I'm sure the station will be placed in Redwood City if Palo Alto truly doesn't want it. No additional traffic beyond what was already going to Caltrain. Problem solved.

I'm not sure what you're advocating in the rest of your post. You want to build it up 280? I assume that your cities are willing to pitch in the extra couple billion dollars needed to build aerial track all the way from SJ to SF? Ditto for 101. Actually, an aerial structure over 101 would generate far more noise in Palo Alto than the at-grade alignment along the Caltrain ROW. At-grade is much quieter because all the ballast (gravel) and earth absorbs sounds, whereas the concrete aerial structure just reflects sound. Go listen to BART running along an aerial structure sometime and you'll understand.

Of course, a 101 alignment would remove the (minimal) noise away from, say, Felton Gables and put the (maximal) noise down near, say, Menlo Oaks. But I'm sure that doesn't matter, right? As long as it's somewhere else...even if it's still the same city.

Aaron said...

Understand or don't understand, that's obviously up to your giant intellect to figure out and come to terms with.

This post has nothing to do with either the campaign against Prop. 1A nor an alignment through the Peninsula. Posting this drivel on this post is trolling. Find another post for it.

Robert Cruickshank said...

Anon, these claims are flatly ridiculous. Pushing traffic into neighborhoods? Marching on city hall to protest HSR? Hah. Bring it on. All you'll do is make it look like you're in league with Bobby Jindal. *Nobody* will support you.

whakojacko said...

just a quick Note-There may be 30 nonstop flights SFO-LAX, but {SFO,OAK-SJC}-{SNA,ONT,BUR,LAX} is massive-one of the busiest point to point air markets in the world. Definitely a good place for HSR (ie look what happened between BCN and MAD)

arcady said...

"Go listen to BART running along an aerial structure sometime and you'll understand."

Now that's an issue that can actually be addressed, and relatively easily, by putting up low walls along the edge of the el, to block at least the direct sightline to the wheels and trucks. BART didn't do this, because they wanted to have narrower-looking, more "elegant" el structures. That and, for whatever reason, BART trains seem way louder than those on other systems.

Anonymous said...

Virgin has officially lost it's virginity. What it will now be called is a mystery. :-p

yeson1a said...

Well back to thread..I think Virgin would be great at running the Trains. I love the airline bolth the US and UK version.I have wondered if Amtrak California would run this or someone like an airline..God I think I read something about SWA somewhere..

Andrew said...

Interesting. I'm still of the mind that JR should be brought in, if only for seismic engineering.

Matt said...

Anon,


The point is you push traffic that belongs at SFO and SJC into neighborhoods.


What exactly do you mean by this? Are you really afraid of trains running through your cities? Because they already do. And they blow their horns really load when they come through. But that will be taken away when the at grade crossings are removed. Also, vehicle traffic will be eased. If the trains do not bother you now, they will not bother you when HSR runs.
So perhaps you can explaion to us because we all want to know: What is the problem?

Alon Levy said...

If they build CAHSR at approximately the same time as true HSR in the Northeast, Midwest, and Texas, it might make sense to create Amtrak divisions for that, instead of completely separate entities. That way, it would be relatively easy to through-run trains when e.g. Pittsburgh is connected to both New York and Chicago.

mike said...

That and, for whatever reason, BART trains seem way louder than those on other systems.

Yeah, I really don't know why this is. I was just commenting on that to someone today.

Anonymous said...

We just had a stupid meeting in San Jose discussing this BS train which they intend to run through every quaint peninsula town- that would be starting with WILLOW GLEN in San jose, through Santa Clara quaint downtown, Sunnyvale, Mountain View (nice downtown there), Palo Alto, Atherton where this POS train goes through Larry Ellison's BACKYARD, Menlo Park, Burlingame downtown where this POS will ruin every 4 star restaurant there and up to SF.

If they don't build this crap project UNDERGROUND this project will be sued repeatedly until all hell breaks loose by the richest people in the country. What a bunch of losers.

Anonymous said...

@anon @4:36

Don't waste your time or emotions trying to make a logical plea. There are a few here willing to engage in conversation but there are some, such as yeson1a, who's primary purpose in life seems to be to flame anyone who disagrees with their point of view (or should I say "diagres with there pont of veew"). I advise putting your energy into something more productive.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous, I am not the same person. I am a different anonymous that just found this blog. I don't know where in the heck you people live. When you rerouted this through PACHECO PASS, where it goes right through downtown burlingame, palo alto, menlo park, atherton, mountain view- these are places where business plans are written and 4 star restraurants are located PRACTICALLY ON THE TRACKS of the slow moving caltrain- you drove a knife into the heart of this. Get ready for lawsuits up the arse, oh I see the first one just was filed by Menlo Park 2 days ago!!! And now all the towns are banding together to demand an underground system. Idiots should have given this some better thought. You and this train will go down unless you MOVE IT BACK TO ALTAMONT, PERIOD.

Clem said...

> {SFO,OAK,SJC}-{SNA,ONT,BUR,LAX} is massive-one of the busiest point to point air markets in the world

Yup, about 200 flight a day each way, with about half of those flown by Southwest Airlines alone.

Alon Levy said...

I don't think that "The towns on the Peninsula are rich, so you have to underground the system at your own expense" is a logical plea. To me it sounds more like blackmail: spend more money on us or else we'll sue you, just because we can.

The part about revenue generation is not to be taken too seriously, either. Menlo Park isn't an autonomous town whose sole interaction with the outside world consists of paying taxes. It's part of a region. It draws cheap labor from cities like East Palo Alto, while keeping its property values high by using zoning laws to make it impossible to build apartment buildings and rent them to poorer people. It relies on its proximity to San Francisco and Stanford University as a way of drawing jobs.

That's not to say that what's good for San Francisco, i.e. building HSR to LA at the lowest practical cost, is good for everyone else in the Bay Area. There are differences in interests. But they're smaller than you think. Maintaining high property values is not a public interest; it's a narrow special interest, no more deserving of special recognition than a public sector union's interest in overbuilding. The public interest is to protect major job centers, none of which is threatened by HSR, and promote vital neighborhoods. You can make an argument that the cities of the Peninsula are vital, but it requires you to show more than that they're rich. Rich doesn't equal vital. Sundown towns had low poverty, but they weren't vital - they were simply segregated by law.

Clem said...

I'm curious: sue on what legal basis?

arcady said...

Since we're way off topic here anyway, I think the reason that BART trains are so loud might have to do with the direct fixation track. It also might be something to do with the wheel-rail interface, and the fact that they use a non-standard gauge and may have gotten some of the dimensions wrong.

And to prevent future off-topic-fulness, why don't we have some discussions about parts of the HSR route other than the Peninsula? It just seems to rouse up the trolls, and frankly, I don't think it's even the most important part of the route. Even if HSRA does absolutely nothing for the route, they'll still be able to run trains on an electrified Caltrain, and sure, it might take 10 or 15 minutes longer, and might be a bit capacity constrained, but there's still be some kind of service. Whereas if LA-Bakersfield isn't there, there's just no HSR service at all. Not to mention that the Bay Area is not the center of California, definitely not in terms of population. Heck, LA County has more population than the whole Bay Area, and almost a third of the state's population. LA is a major, world-class city and the Bay Area is just a midsize metropolitan region. Now get over yourselves, and let's get to talking about interesting things like who will operate the trains, or FRA regulations, or just how the HSR line will get over the mountains.

Anonymous said...

Last time I checked, Menlo Park included the eastern part of Menlo Park, similar in many ways to East Palo Alto in housing and demographics. There are also plenty of apartments and higher density units in the city along with the big houses. Not accurate to characterize Menlo Park as one demographic. (If you think there's unity, just check out a City Council meeting...)

Anonymous said...

Sorry, rich=vital here, because this is Silicon Valley, Venture Capital land, Palo Alto the number one new company incubator in the USA, the Mtn View train station next to google which will make every lunch meeting anybody ever had there intolerable.

Get ready to be sued to hell, and back, for not disclosing the environmental damage from this boondoggle. I see Palo Alto has not one not two but FIVE active yahoo threads full of hundreds of active members dissing this lame project.

Either you idiots know nothing about business, or you are just plain stupid, or both.

Ken said...

@ arcady --

But isn't the argument that we need HSR all the way to SF or else the ridership won't be there?

Personally I think a phased approach makes more sense, get SJ to LA in place with the $ available and then work on getting HSR to SF.

Anonymous said...

LA is a major, world-class city and the Bay Area is just a midsize metropolitan region.

Ha well that settles it then, take your stupid train and move to bakersfield. The reason they want to get to SF so badly is because the SF bay area is the VENTURE CAPITAL CAPITAL of the WORLD you lame brains. The problem is, they then in their infinite wisdom ran it through the downtown areas of the most expensive real estate in the country, right next door to PALO ALTO HIGH SCHOOL one of the top 10 public high schools in the nation, with a 15 ft concrete wall right next door to stanford university where they have the music recitals. Brilliant! Move along and take this train back to Merced and bakersfield where it belongs. Or route it through ALTAMONT

Anonymous said...

The lawsuits are all based on proposed environmental damage.

The brief, filed in August by Oakland-based attorney Stuart Flashman, was submitted on the basis that authority officials violated state environmental law when they chose the plan to run the train through the Peninsula.

Its going to be easy to sue this project because there are dozens of historical locations next to the tracks. The "big tree" of Palo Alto, for one, that tree that is the symbol of Stanford U. It will have to be moved and likely could not withstand the movement and die (old redwoods cannot be moved). In san jose there is a neighborhood historic district called Palm Haven which is 3 blocks from the train so although these houses will not be leveled they will be damaged due to environmental concerns. The historic train stations some of which are protected will have to go, etc. This project must have the support of the community which it does not, otherwise it will be difficult to erect. Altamont is your answer.

Brandon in San Diego said...

There are a few new posters that are obviously just becoming familiar with the project relative to the regulars here. Perhaps some of them have been drinking and posting tonight?

Never-the-less, I think we should be a little patient with them.... and I know that is difficult because the same things keep coming up over and over despite contradictory infomration that is readily available and apparent.

Fwiw, to them a couple things that should be obvious...

Pacheco was the original alignment, not a new alignment shifted from somewhere else.

State law requires that the HSR system connect SF and LA.

State law requires that the travel time between LA and SF be no more than 2hrs and 38 minutes... or 2hrs and 42 minutes... something like that.

Anyone can file a lawsuit; however, keeping it from getting tossed requires 'legal standing'. Winning is something else. And, a judiciary 'win' may not necessarily amount to any substantive change relative to the one you're seeking.

If the argument you make here is representative of your knowledge base of the project, environmental laws, the legal system, transportation planning... then you have a lot oa catching up to do.

The only thing I have more to add.... is have a nice Thursday... and thank you for stimulating the economy by paying lawyers to take up your case. Apparently your group is loaded, so keep up the good fight.

Peter said...

Just a reminder to everyone.

Also could the Anon posters please either register, or at least add a signing line of "-some madeup name" to their posts? It's quite annoying when anon replies to anon replying to anon.

----

Back somewhat on topic, BART is aware of the fact that their trains are so noisy, they even have a video talking about it. They basically say it's due to heavy use and poor maintenance of the rails (that they swear they're fixing).

----

Also re: the comment about moving traffic into the towns from the freeways. This actually is a completely reasonable concern about the mid-peninsula station, which is why Redwood city and Palo Alto are both studying if they want a HSR station or not. However this is only valid if we are talking about a specific station, not the tracks or the overall system. People don't drive to tracks for no reason, people drive to stations.

The Transbay station will be almost entirely accessed by transit (bart, muni, buses) or with some people parking in existing lots downtown.

The Millbrae station also has lots of transit (bart, caltrain, buses) and is 2 blocks from 101 for easy car access.

Diridon again has lots of transit (future bart, buses, caltrain, vta, etc). I assume they're going to add a parking garage and make the connections to/from 87 and 280 better.

Neither Redwood City or Palo Alto's station is nearly as obvious of a candidate. Both are in shopping districts that are not directly accessible from 101 or 280. There almost certainly will be more traffic on the surface streets surrounding the station if one is built. There will be lots of benefits (most obvious being more people in a shopping district = more people spending money), but there are certainly downsides.

----

To those posting anonymously, could you please tone it down a bit. Most of us here are very pro-HSR, but that doesn't mean that the current plan is infallible and that it has absolutely no negative effects. If you raise legitimate concerns I hope that we can have some civilized discussions about them (I intend the above as a starting point for one). However demanding that the system not be built, or that we need to pay for your part to be completely underground, or generally yelling (posting in all caps) doesn't get any of us anywhere.

Alon Levy said...

Last time I checked, Menlo Park included the eastern part of Menlo Park, similar in many ways to East Palo Alto in housing and demographics. There are also plenty of apartments and higher density units in the city along with the big houses. Not accurate to characterize Menlo Park as one demographic.

I don't mean to imply Menlo Park is monolithic. But it's definitely rich - its poverty rate is 6.9%, and its median family income is $133,251. It is similar in racial demographics to Manhattan's Upper West Side, which is overall very wealthy, but has a few poor areas, such as Manhattan Valley.

Sorry, rich=vital here

Repetition doesn't equal argument. The most important businesses have not voiced complaints at all - for example, if HSR could disrupt the Googleplex as much as you fear, Google would've come out against the project.

The complaints have come mainly from residential concerns. High-income residences contribute very little to the community, especially when they're gated. They pay taxes, but they'll pay the same income and sales taxes everywhere. By themselves, they don't generate much. There's a reason why Jane Jacobs did not focus on neighborhoods like the Upper West Side and instead lauded Greenwich Village, which at the time was mixed-income and even now is not nearly so rich as the Upper West Side or Menlo Park.

This project must have the support of the community which it does not, otherwise it will be difficult to erect. Altamont is your answer.

The preferred Altamont alignment curves around the bay, serving San Jose and the Peninsula. The only other way to get to SF is via a second Transbay Tube, which a) is too expensive to be feasible and b) doesn't serve the LA-to-Silicon Valley travel market.

Peter said...

Another completely valid thing to talk about is the Palo Alto High School.

It is built right up against the existing Caltrain tracks. There's a grade crossing at Churchill, which means kids walking to/from school cross live train tracks every day.

The first thing everyone's worried about is eminent domain. On the Palo Alto RoW map (all of them here) you can see that Caltrain owns 85ft along the entire school, which means no eminent domain should be needed.

The second issue is the grade crossing of Churchill. It's not entirely obvious how this should be separated. Completely closing the road (and adding a pedestrian over/underpass) is probably the easiest, but that has obvious downsides. Keeping it open the easiest is to raise the tracks, but that will have the most noise / visual impact on the area. Depressing the road probably is not possible due to Alma st. There's probably another possibility I haven't thought of. However it happens it will no longer be possible for a kid to ever be in front of a train.

The final issue is noise in the classrooms of the school. There already must be quite a bit of noise due to Caltrain every day, so the question is not how do you make all noise go away. The question is how do you have minimal additional noise, or even try to reduce the noise. An obvious solution is for a noise wall along the school, which will be hidden by bleachers or buildings.

No matter how much those that live in the area wish for it, trains are not going to disappear from the caltrain corridor anytime soon. Those living in the area and effected by this should not be asking "how can I make this go away". The question should be "If I had $10 million, or $100 million, what could I do to make this better?"

If you approach the CAHSR board with an ultimatum (make the trains go away, or put it underground at insane cost) they're probably just going to ignore you. If you approach them with a plan to how something could be made much better for those effected for $100million when they were only planning on spending $50million on the section, they'll probably go along with it.

Peter said...

This project must have the support of the community which it does not, otherwise it will be difficult to erect.

http://www.sos.ca.gov/elections/sov/2008_general/maps/returns/props/prop-1a.htm

The community includes more than the 100 houses along the tracks.

Alon Levy said...

Peter, your link only gives data per county.

BruceMcF said...

Aside: Is it possible to turn off the anonymous posting option? Since people are free to post under pseudonyms, there's nothing lost and much to be gained.

Alon Levy said: "If they build CAHSR at approximately the same time as true HSR in the Northeast, Midwest, and Texas, it might make sense to create Amtrak divisions for that, instead of completely separate entities. That way, it would be relatively easy to through-run trains when e.g. Pittsburgh is connected to both New York and Chicago."

But if they run it on the model of private operators buying slots, then as long as the funding agency insists on a compatible design envelope, it would be relatively easy to through-run trains, for either a service operator running, say, New York / (Philadelphia/) Harrisburg / Pittsburgh or an operator running, say, Pittsburgh / Cleveland / Fort Wayne / Chicago.

I would prefer that Amtrak stuck to focusing on FRA Heavy Rail compliant passenger rail service and allowed the Rapid Rail and bullet trains to be provided by private operators. That model means campaign contributions from the private HSR operators to pollies for support of HSR, to act as a growing counterweight to the political lobbying of the airlines ...

... and it also permits far-sighted airlines to get into the HSR business, so that they are not going to be on the airline lobbying side as their business model gets hammered in the upcoming series of oil price shocks and/or recessions.

Alon Levy said...

Continental and American already support HSR, even if it's not directly going to profit them. Legacy airlines lose money on short-haul flights; they offer them as collectors for profitable long-haul routes. HSR that runs to their hubs is good for them because it allows them to concentrate on what they make money from. Since HSR is profitable at short-haul flight ranges, this is win-win. The parties losing from such an arrangement are low-cost airlines like Southwest, whose business model allows them to profit from short-haul flights.

Rafael said...

@ Peter -

the best way to keep the noise out of classrooms is to install soundproof windows. Note that HSR does not produce the characteristic clackety-clack of old-fashioned sectional track, because it is continuously welded.

Sound walls do help as well (up to 8dB reduction) and double as security fences.

However, keep in mind that grade separation will mean the end of bells and train horns, so there will actually be a lot less noise to deal with in the first place. Trains running past at 125mph aren't quiet, but we're talking ~90dB instead of ~120.

Wrt BART noise, the problem is that the concrete sleepers are attached directly to the concrete aerial structures. There's no ballast to dampen the sound. The Japanese have the same problem on some of their shinkansen lines and, have developed an effective (3dB reduction) ballast bags that can be installed between the tracks. Caltrain/HSR won't need these as they can use cheaper conventional ballast aggregate.

Andrew said...

@arcady:

"LA is a major, world-class city and the Bay Area is just a midsize metropolitan region."

San Francisco is also a major, world-class city. There's more taken into account than just sheer population.

LA-Bakersfield is a more vital piece of infrastructure because the rails haven't actually been built yet, but the whole route is of great importance to the success of the project.

Andre Peretti said...

The TGV-Méditerranée has avoided litigation and technical problems by staying away from buit-up zones and building its stations out of city limits, which also allows large parking lots. These stations look like airports with car rental counters and also Air-TGV counters. The TGV codeshares with all American airlines and TGV trips are considered frequent-flyer miles. In fact, TGV stations have an airline code just like JFK or LAX.
These stations are generally 5-10 km from the city and have no rail link to existing downtown stations. For example Avignon has two stations: Avignon (downtown) and Avignon-TGV, 5 miles out of town.
Saying that building stations in the middle of nowhere encourages driving is a bit simplistic. If they were not there, people would either drive to a more distant airport or drive all the way to their destination, which is even worse. These stations are even closer to the cities than the malls where people do most of their shopping.
5-10 miles is well within the range of electric cars and should encourage people to buy them when they become affordable.
I think few people are ready to abandon their cars. Unless you live in the center of Paris or Marseille you need one. Enabling people to drive much shorter distances is more realistic.

arcady said...

Andre Peretti: The problem here is "5-10 km from the city" might be "the middle of nowhere" in France, but it certainly isn't in most of the US, Bay Area included. For example, it's about 60 miles from San Francisco to the first real gap in the suburbs at the south edge of San Jose. Everything for those 60 miles is pretty much continuously built up, which is something you just don't see in France.

And my original point about relative priorities is that right now, there's already a railroad between SF and SJ, which HSR trains will be able to use in a few years once it's electrified. Between LA and Bakersfield, there is absolutely nothing (along the I-5 corridor), or a railroad so slow as to be a joke (via Tehachapi, it takes 5 hours).

Brandon in San Diego said...

Concerning station locations sited away from built-up areas... Prop 1A support from some environmental groups, such as the Sierra Club (?), was built on agreements that the HSR not induce urban sprawl. Those agreements, such as no station in Los Banos or capping the total number of stations at 28 (#?), were built into the proposition.

The point, it seems to be a non-starter to re-introduce station location ideas in rural areas.

Anonymous said...

Andre Peretti: Thanks for confirming how its done in Europe, which is pretty much what these Peninsula residents are trying to get through to folks here - HSR is not meant to run through neighborhoods and school yards, and backyards. I assume it occassionaly enters big city metro transit hub centers for stops, but it mainly has stations that are big like airports, and it locates stations in places similar to where airports make sense. (outskirts of town, not in the direct town centers. Imagine SFO the center of SF - insane!)

And its routes (I assume and from most pictures online), run in more sparsely populated countrysides, or sometimes through industrial areas, or along other major transportation corridors. Big very dense cities (way more dense than even SF) do seem to have webs of rail weaving through them - but even that's not at all similar to the environment CHSRA is proposing here.

But I don't think they have as a practice, HSRs clear cutting through vibrant suburban neighborhoods (like within feet of peoples pools and bedroom windows, next to football fields, yards from play structures in parks, etc)

It certainly doesn't sound like they attempt to draw major traffic INTO the middle of suburbs, or even into the centers of major cities.

That's quite different from what CHSR is proposing here.

Perhaps some do? but Im betting they try to minimize that where HSRs are most succesful percieved by their communities.

Can anyone provide links to pictures of HSR's running along backyard fences and schoolyards, and how that looks and how they minimize impacts in suburban neighborhoods, A picture's worth a thousand words - would help people in the Peninsula calm down and understand how wonderful this will be - please provide links. I can't find any.

But on the topic of Virgin/Branson. One small hitch. If California HSR uses Measure 1A bonds, apparently Virgin's not going to be allowed to share in CHSRA's revenue upside...

(5) Revenues of the authority, generated by operations of the high-speed train system above and beyond operating and maintenance costs and financing obligations, including, but not limited to, support of revenue bonds, as
determined by the authority, shall be used for construction, expansion, improvement, replacement, and rehabilitation of the high-speed train system.

I guess unless he's entering as a lender, in which case he gets interest payment, or he enters as a maintenance or operations service provider, then he gets paid for those services - but then Measure 1A also says CHSR has to be self sustaining:

(J) The planned passenger service by the authority in the corridor or usable segment thereof will not require a local, state, or federal operating subsidy.

So, any debt service to private investors, or contracts with service providers need to remain in the realm of affordable for CHSRA, within their Revenue generating capabilities. Actuals.

(which might take a little bit of the bloom off Virgin's rosy cheeks)

And then I guess Virgin would take a pretty hard look at those ridership projections, perhaps a little harder look that CHSRA did...

And private investors (I assume) would be subordinated behind bonds, so in case of bankruptcy (ie" state of california not making their obligations, ridership projections not there, no subsidy's allowed), then uh private investors out of luck?

Its sounds like quite a gamble. I guess that's the world of high roller politics. Life in the fast lane, so to speak.

Kyle - Boston said...

The point is, stations are supposed to be in the center of cities, that is the purpose of a train station and train service...to deliver the person to the center of the city. This talk about having train stations on the outskirts of a city (similar to an airport), is obviously coming from a person who has never taken a train.

Every time I took the TGV, ICE, Eurostar, or any other regional European trains, the station was always directly in the town or city...once again, the entire purpose. The same is true in the U.S., Boston, NYP, Baltimore, D.C. Union etc... to name a few.

This anonymous poster is a tool!

Christopher Parker said...

1. The French TGF runs from city center to city center. However it starts it's newly constructed high speed lines outside of town. There are some out-of-town stations as well. To get from the city center to the start of it's high speed route it uses pre-existing rail lines. This, of course, is the plan in California as well.

2. SNCF is not a private operator (They are part of the French government). That would be an interesting situation if two publicly owned companies, Amtrak and SNCF were competing! All kinds of nationalistic implications there!

Anonymous said...

Repetition doesn't equal argument. The most important businesses have not voiced complaints at all - for example, if HSR could disrupt the Googleplex as much as you fear, Google would've come out against the project.

Sorry charlie. Do not pass go. The Pacheco route, and an OVER GROUND HSR on the caltrain tracks was not universally understood until recently which is WHY the opposition is heating up now, and I can assure you, it is heating up- EVERYWHERE. This route was kept somewhat quiet and the city councilmembers were scammed by Quentin Kopp. The Palo Alto city councilmembers, for example, "supported the project" for the vote. Only Menlo Park objected. Now that the city understands the scope of this mess, those Palo Alto councilmembers will surely be voted out of office immediately (hence the active participation of the Palo Alto council trying to "organize opposition" now- she very rightfully, fears for her job).

This strong and very loud opposition not only from residents but from Silicon Valley businesses that rely on the very short supply of housing in the area which will immediately be rendered useless, or business people who are concerned with quality of life issues such as HSR next to the top public schools in the country, or the best 5 star restaurants that are located in the quaint IN TOWN locations where this project plans to barrel through.

I don't think you supporters quite realize what you are up against. These towns can shut this train down, at least for this regional area. There is probably roughly 10+ billion in property damage that will occur for the peninsula portion of HSR (assuming a 2 block radius of homes will be destroyed from a quality of life perspective, say a few hundred homes in each town rendered usuless at $2 million per Palo Alto property), then the towns themselves and damage.

You guys better come up with PLAN B

Anonymous said...

As far as city center to city center, one of the questions last night at the emotionally charged meeting was for the HSR supporters to name ONE CITY in the world where HSR exists above ground through a densely populated extremely high end residential location. HSR replied with "Madrid". Madrid, they say, has HSR above ground going through densely populated high end residential locations.

As you can see from this detailed article on Spain's high speed rail, there is NO repeat NO information or pictures to indicate HSR goes right through residential areas overground. The pictures provided do show some in town locations nearby (perhaps 1/2 mile) but that is different than the SF peninsula where these things are going to be 30 FEET from homes.

What the article does say is this,
placing 90 percent of
the population within only a few dozen kilometers of a highspeed
rail line


Well a few dozen KMs = over a dozen MILES away from the tracks is where people live.

Bruce.McFarling said...

So, Anon @ 10:23am (BTW, are you posting Anon because you are too lazy to come up with a pseudonym, or because you would rather be taken less seriously?), what you are saying is that property within a 2 block radius of existing railroad, with level crossings and 120 decibel horns blaring, will be "destroyed" converting to a grade separated railway line with rail vehicles up to 90 decibels passing by.

Now, it may well be that there are local residents who did not become involved in the alignment selection process ... which was an open process with public meetings, etc., just like the current phase ... and now after a majority of people in their region voted for the HSR, they all of a sudden are outraged by the outcome of a process they did not bother to participate in ...

... however, this is not a new rail corridor being discussed. The idea that eliminating grade crossings is going to destroy the property value of all property within a two block radius is just hysterical fear-mongering.

A given town may have five options ... line at grade, with "impenetrable" crossing gates that are shut quite often, line built up a bit above grade with underpasses a bit below grade, viaduct, cut and cover subway, or bored tunnel subway. A local city that opts for a subway where it is not otherwise required would, of course, be expected to bear the incremental cost.

Bruce.McFarling said...

Anon@10:52 (and as an aside, were you aware that it is possible to pick a pseudonym?)

"As far as city center to city center, one of the questions last night at the emotionally charged meeting was for the HSR supporters to name ONE CITY in the world where HSR exists above ground through a densely populated extremely high end residential location."

As far as "building a rail line" through a "high end residential location", setting aside the question of whether there is an average income level for a community that should exempt it from having a new rail corridor built through the area ...

... the rail line was already there, a long, long time before the "high end" residences were built.

In Europe, the HSR are able to use the existing express passenger rail lines to pass into the center of major metro areas.

And that is what the CAHSR proposes to do ... except of course San Francisco to San Jose does not have a European grade express passenger rail corridor. So the existing rail corridor has to be upgraded to that standard.

The idea that the corridor being discussed is a 220mph corridor is either confusion or deliberate misinformation ... its an express passenger rail corridor in service of the HSR network.

Anonymous said...

Hi Kyle, Great. I know Boston will be pretty similar to the Bay Area in terms of some of its nicer suburbs...

Since you live in Boston maybe you can load us up some real pictures up of the high speed electric trains out there running through miles of the highest end suburbs? This would be most helpful. We can't seem to find any.

Maybe you can include a couple pictures of high speed electric trains threading behind the local 2000 student (suburban) high school? (not the innercity, we need picture of suburban neighborhoods - we're talking about a comparable community of 4&2's, 1& 2 story homes, many historical, nice front and backyard (yards not terribly big though), 100 year old trees, etc. But not inner cities - those pictures of trains running past big city centers, and open fields -really not relevent here, and we can find lots of those already.

Maybe you can show us few healthy examples of how people have come to cohabitate with HSRs running through their backyards and within a couple yards of their bedroom windows. And if you have the time, please throw in a picture if you can of the big (beautiful) retaining walls or sound walls, through these neighborohoods, the flora and fauna draping over the tracks, intermingled with the 100 year old trees lining the neighborhood streets, kids on bikes, walking dogs, crossing the street (tracks) to catch the fireworks at the Stanford games..

You know all this real live high speed rail charm for real communities like ours.

Can you send a few photos please? Clem, any photos out there that might help these communities get a grip?

When you say trains are supposed to run through centers of cities - are you sure you don't mean places that are metropolitan cities? We're not talking about those kinds of places Kyle.

Tony D. said...

You know what I find hillarious about these Mad As hell NIMBY posters: The vast majority of voters on the Penisula SUPPORTED Prop. 1A!! So they're obviously representing their own self (ish) interests; not the region as a whole. That's why a lawsuit will probably be thrown out like today's garbage. Gee, rule in favor of a couple of doomsday NIMBY's or the vast majority of citizens? You make the call.

Back on topic...VIRGIN ROCKS!

Jack said...

I own a home in Sunnyvale that's ~500ft from the high speed rail, and I support the HSR. I don't see how much more noise it can make compared with caltrain.

Caltrain is loud, causes traffic jam during rush hours, polluting, and it's also SLOW.

Kyle - Boston said...

Well, when I lived in Vienna, the ICE from Cologne arrived into Westbahnhof and all the tracks are at street level in a densely populated neighborhood. The same is also true at Munich's Hauptbahnhof, Amsterdam, Naples, Rome, Milan...all of which I've been to. I'm pretty sure Berlin and Geneva are the same way, I can't remember for sure.

I took the train once from Madrid to Pamplona in 2004, which can reach speeds of up to 200km/h and the trains running out of Atocha station were definitely at ground level in a densely populated area.

Once again, this argument about stations not being in city centers is completely absurd.

timote said...

"Sorry charlie. Do not pass go. The Pacheco route, and an OVER GROUND HSR on the caltrain tracks was not universally understood until recently which is WHY the opposition is heating up now, and I can assure you, it is heating up- EVERYWHERE."

Uh, no. I've been reading in the SJ Merc and other papers for years about the back-and-forth of the decision, and the final Pacheco decision was big news well over a year ago. This was not a secret by any stretch of the imagination and a quick google search - not to mention the public record - belies this contention. Besides, it was on the ballot - to say that it was not "universally understood" is highly disingenuous.

Here's a decent site that shows the controversy over alignment and general concept in articles for a number of years (see links at bottom).

High-Speed Rail in California

Anonymous said...

I saw that Deutsche Bahn (DB) was also a potential partner that responded to the call for interest. I personally think they run the best system of trains in Europe across one of the larger (in area) countries and with the largest population. They would definitely be my preferred partner...

Anonymous said...

well thats nice, Kyle-Boston, you found an obscure article about HSR routes that certainly only garnered the interest of those closely involved with HSR at the time.

Prop 1A specified ONLY that HSR would be built, on an APPROPRIATE route. The route that was mentioned was Altamont, which was appropriate. There was no voter approval of the Caltrain peninsula route specifically. And I think you can see from the outcry NOW, that you've got the fight of your life on your hands with some of the wealthiest people in the USA. If the HSR commission tries to imply voters specifically approved the Caltrain peninsula route, then that means voters were lied to and a lawsuit is the remedy there.

mike said...

Pierre, Anons, etc.:

I believe there is substantial confusion about the term "HSR". The line that will be built on the Peninsula is not considered true HSR by international standards. It will be operated at 125 mph, which is basically fast conventional rail for most other developed countries. The SF-SJ segment would not be classified as an LGV ("ligne à grande vitesse" = "high speed line") in France, it would not be classified as an AVE line in Spain ("alta velocidad espanola" = "Spanish high speed"), it would not be classified as a high speed line in Germany, and it would not be classified as a Shinkansen line in Japan ("Shinkansen" = "New Trunk Line"). It would be classified as what it is: an upgraded conventional line.

Once we understand that fact, the source of confusion and angst becomes clear. Pierre is correct that the 186-220 mph LGVs in France do avoid running through city centers. And if CHSRA were planning to build a 220 mph line through downtown Palo Alto, then the residents would be right to be worried! But no one is proposing building a high speed line through Palo Alto. What is being proposed is running a high speed train through Palo Alto at upgraded conventional speeds.

This is done throughout the world. For example, check out the route that the TGV takes from Tours to Bordeaux. This is an upgraded conventional line that operates at up to 137 mph. It passes directly through the center of many small French towns that are quainter than any town on the Peninsula ever will be. And it works fine.

Getting upset that a "high speed train" may run through your neighborhood is like getting upset that your neighbor just bought an ultra luxury sedan with a top speed of 180 mph. If he actually drives at 180 mph down your street, then you should be worried. But if he operates his car at a speed that is consistent with conventional speed limits, then there is no need to worry. In fact, his car will likely be quieter than an old clunker operated at the same speeds.

Ditto for high speed trains. The fact that the train can achieve 220 mph doesn't mean it will ever come close to that speed on the Peninsula. And, at the actual speed of operation on the Peninsula, it will be quieter than the old diesel, non-grade-separated Caltrains.

I'll try to find some pictures later in the day when I have time.

Kyle - Boston said...

Anon:

Sure, the train runs through Canton, Sharon, the Neponset area, the Stony Brook area and several other nice suburbs outside of Boston. If you want, you can go to google maps, follow the tracks out of the city and use a street view to see all the nice houses areas around the tracks. I don't have the time to take pictures of these suburbs for you, I'm sorry, but I have better thing to do.

Things can still exist, even if there isn't a picture on the internet.

yeson1a said...

Your off topic willow glen..did you not post a rant the day after
Prop1A passed by 65% in area? BTW
the trees are on Railroad property

Anonymous said...

Jack the difference with HSR is that if you are 50 ft from the tracks,
- reverberation/shaking from trains will damage your foundation over time
- large quantities of dust similar to living near a freeway
- electrocution lines above and around facility, resulting environmental damage
- eyesore of a 20ft concrete structure when you look out your window

other than that, HSR is just like the caltrain (oh except it runs every few mins and caltrain runs everyhalf hour at most, once every 2 hours at least).

Aaron said...

Anon @ 10:23:

So your argument is basically "We were too stupid to understand what we were voting for, please excuse us."

Love it.

Anonymous said...

@mike: Right, the best parisian neighborhoods feature high speed rail tracks overhead, 30 feet away from the residents, where local schools feature towering, roaring high speed rail lines as a feature of the high quality of life. Bustin' a gut here.

Alon Levy said...

Trains run elevated in Tokyo, too. Tokyo Station, which is located right in the center of town, is elevated.

Four-star restaurants and top public schools are symptoms of gated communities, again. The reason the Peninsula has top public schools is that the school district boundaries are drawn to only include high-income areas; this ensures an ample supply of tax money to run the school and rich kids whose parents would ensure they'd succeed anywhere. These are barely even public schools - their per student spending is on a par with private schools, but instead of "tuition" they call the fee a "property tax." They're certainly as exclusive. And like any other schools, they can move, as Stuyvesant in New York has once every few decades.

The point Jacobs made is that the intact community has some value in itself. So far what you're telling me is that the people within the community have high value, but that's not the same. Top schools, top restaurants (which really means top chefs, who can move even more easily than schools), and high tax revenue are all features of people, not the ties between people. High property values are a feature of a community, but there's nothing inherently desirable about them, except to real estate speculators.

Alon Levy said...

France doesn't have the same division of good school districts and bad school districts as in the US. Schools are funded nationally, so in principle it doesn't matter whether you live in Paris proper or in the housing projects in the suburbs.

Anonymous said...

@Alon Levy: Cut the urban planning sludge. This is PALO ALTO we are talking about, an international destination that is the corporate startup and high tech capital of the world.

If you are suggesting that this train has the moxie or ability to "relocate" Stanford and Palo Alto, I suggest you go take a cold shower, and ponder what would happen if this train went right through Beverly Hills.

If you are assuming there is one troll blasting this project on every website, your assumption is wrong. This is generating a widespread community uproar.

yeson1a said...

No its 3 or 4 nimbys like you doing all the screaming..AND your right Palo Alto is a world class destination with the medical center
ect..its not that SMALL Town you keep harping about. A station on the HSR is just what is needed for such an important city.

Anonymous said...

Before reading this blog I had quite a bit of sympathy for the residents of Menlo Park and Palo Alto. However, after reading the bizarre comments made by a few, I'm kind of hoping they lose, and soon. It seems an argument can be made for mitigating impacts from an upgraded rail line, but if the people on here are any indication of the thoughts of those local residents----yikes. The rhetoric certainly turns me away from any sympathy and all of the threats seem childish.

It doesn't seem like anyone can explain how on Earth a grade separated line with slightly faster trains could in any way be worse than what's there now. If you read only what the residents have to say you'd think the plan was to build a whole new rail line!? There's already a rail line, with stinky, loud trains rolling down it all day long. This doesn't even pass the common sense test. Thank you to the residents of Menlo Park and Palo Alto and their rhetoric for making me a firm supporter of HSR on the peninsula.

Rafael said...

@ anon @ 12:22pm -

you're right, Caltrain isn't planning to install any "electrocution" (sic) lines that will allow it to operate zero tailpipe emissions vehicles, is it?

Please remember that it was your decision to buy property near an already existing railroad. It was your decision to ignore the planning process and media coverage of prop 1A in the run-up to the election. Caveat emptor.

If Caltrain had been out of service, I'd understand your anger about this expansion of service. But it never was. You knew you were moving next to an active railroad, which means rail traffic can go up as well as down. If you didn't factor that into the purchase price of your home, don't expect taxpayers to bail you out by paying through the nose for a four-bore tunnel through suburbia.

Post-electrification, Caltrain will be running more trains than ever before but they'll be much quieter thanks to the absence of bells and train horns. Noise events will also be shorter due to the higher operating speeds. Both Caltrain and HSR will be running on continuously welded track, so there won't be any clackety-clacking.

Plus, CHSRA is open to all vendors at this point. The Japanese arguably have the best handle on rail-wheel noise issues because their culture abhors noise. In addition, some of the shinkansen lines run 15-20 trains per hour (tph). Drivers are expected to implement the schedule down to a couple of seconds(!) because delays would have severe knock-on effects for operations later in the day.

In California, HSR will have to build ridership first. I'd be surprised if they can reliably fill seats for more than 4-6 tph in the first few years of operation. And those would be single-level half-length trains with perhaps 350-400 seats.

A full-length bi-level HSR train has well over 1000 seats but it will be a good long while before anyone runs those in California. SNCF and JR only introduced bi-level designs once lines approached their tph capacity, which is determined by emergency braking distance.

Even then, California simply isn't Japan, the population density is not as high. HSR will provide a very useful medium-distance transportation alternative, but it's unlikely that trains will be running at 3-5 minute headways anytime in the foreseeable future.

nikko pigman said...

I just wanted to throw something out here -- when I visited Tokyo, my hotel was located in an upper end neighborhood near the Tokyo Station. In fact, my hotel was only 5 blocks away. The tracks leading up to the station (which included metro, regional, and HSR trains) were built on a kind of elevated ground, like a reverse trench or something. The business district has been flourishing because of the location of the rail line. In fact, where the roads pass under the ROW, shops have actually opened up and in a few segment of this ROW, there's actually like a small shopping center underneath. The psychological presence of the railway seemed conducive to commercial development even when there wasn't even a subway station within close proximity.

This obviously isn't the exact model that CAHSR will be using but a lot of the concept is the same. It should be noted that the bullet trains were not moving at top speed in this area, nor in the suburban area. Nor would the CAHSR trains. What Tokyo does show us is that HSR does not hurt the local neighborhoods.

And please, for the love of god, stop using Anon. Click "Name/URL" and enter a pseudoname, just so we can identify you.

nikko pigman said...

Btw, here's a link to a wikipedia article about the station.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tokyo_Station

nym said...

Nym! It's nym! PseudoNYM! not pseudoname! NYM! NYM! NYM! PseudoNYM!!

theo said...

Anon's shenanigans are really making me hate Palo Altans.

What an arrogant little community -- they expect to dump everything unsightly (landfill, IKEA, office parks, trains, service workers) on neighboring communities and preserve their pristine little enclave of ugly two million dollar ranch homes at any cost.

That time back in the 90s when East Palo Alto threatened to shut down their police department so that PA would pay for the services they benefit from -- that was hilarious and well deserved.

theo said...

High speed trains run at 120 mph (i.e. reduced speed) through every built-up suburban area in Japan and Western Europe.

The Peninsula is practically rural compared to the density of some of these areas. And many of them (western suburbs of Tokyo, Islington North London where Tony Blair lived) are as nice as anywhere on the Peninsula.

The arrogant exceptionalism and bombasticism of the Palo Alto ranters here ought to be embarrassing. You own a valuable house. Congratulations, it doesn't make you a person whose whims must be catered to.

HSR will in the long run only increase the value of your house. If I were unfortunate enough to live in Palo Alto I'd be spending all my free time lobbying for a station. Beats trying to invest in this market.

Anonymous said...

SNCF says it is already involved in the project:


TGV California
08/12/15

http://www.sncf.com/en_EN/html/media/CH0001-Corporate/BR0625-TGV-California/MD0005_20081215-Read-article.html

TGV San Diego-Sacramento : "yes we can"

California approved via referendum the construction of a high-speed train between San Diego and Sacramento. A "yes" dictated by environmental issues.

The end of cars and planes only era in the United States? A strong signal is coming from the west coast in any case. Last November 4, California citizens voted via referendum for a high-speed train line between San Diego and Sacramento. Over 1,200 km. Los Angeles will only be 2 hours and 20 minutes from San Francisco.

Twelve years in the making and pushed back several times, this project - the largest ever undertaken by the state of California - is of great interest to SNCF. The company is already involved in the project. Systra, a joint subsidiary of SNCF and RATP, has been entrusted with several preliminary studies.

The "yes" voiced by Californians for the TGV resonates as a victory for the environmental movement. Between 88 and 117 million travellers are expected between when it opens and 2030. California, which is preparing for a demographic explosion of more than 50% in the next 20 years, intends to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions to its 1990 levels by the year 2020, and then to reduce them to 20% of this level by 2050.

Anonymous said...

anon @ 11:40
The googleplex is nowhere near the mountain view caltrain station. The 101 is a far more significant source of noise. And that is not a problem for meetings either.